Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards named Britain’s top winter sports hero in new poll

21st March 2016

  • Legendary underdog pips Torvill and Dean and skeleton great Amy Williams to claim top spot
  • Eddie urges people to protect themselves on slopes by wearing a helmet and getting insured
  • Poll comes ahead of new film in February about the life story of Eddie the Eagle

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards has cemented his place in the nations’ heart after being voted in a poll by Nationwide FlexPlus as Britain’s greatest winter sportsperson nearly 28 years after he made history.

Billed as a true underdog, Eddie was the first competitor to represent Great Britain in the ski jump at a Winter Olympics and despite coming last at Calgary in the 1988 Games, set a British record of 73.5 metres in one of his jumps. But despite coming last, Eddie remains a symbol of British perseverance and tenacity. This is supported by the survey, which shows around a quarter of people (24%) think Brits are the worst when it comes to winter sports.

The Nationwide FlexPlus survey highlights a culture of risky behaviour on the slopes, with a quarter of people (22%) failing to wear protective clothing or equipment when taking part in winter sports. Additionally, one in four (25%) don’t bother getting travel insurance, even though a fifth of people (18%) end up injured, with two thirds of casualties requiring medical or hospital assistance. Less than half (49%) wear a helmet, despite the poll highlighting that more than one in ten injuries are to the head (11%).

Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards, who is most famously remembered for his valiant efforts in the 1988 Winter Olympics, said: “Naturally, I’m touched to be hailed as the greatest winter sportsperson and I guess it goes to show it’s not all about winning. I only ever wanted to achieve something and if by taking part in those historic jumps I encouraged more young people to get their ski boots on, then that can only be a good thing.

“Fun aside, winter sports can pose a risk, which is why I’d always recommend wearing protective clothing such as a helmet. But this is all useless advice if people don’t stick to the rules and treat the snow with respect – don’t try to be a hero and stay within your limits!”

According to the poll of 1,000 people who have taken part in winter sports, Britain’s favourite winter sports heroes are:

Rank Winter sportsperson Vote (%)
1 Eddie 'the Eagle' Edwards - ski jumper (58th and 55th) in 1988 Winter Olympics 17%
2 Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean - Gold in 1984, bronze in 1994 Winter Olympics 16%
3 Amy Williams - Skeleton Gold in 2010 Winter Olympics 14%
4 Robin Cousins - Figure skating Gold in 1980 Winter Olympics 8%
5 Rhona Martin - Curling Gold in 1992 Winter Olympics 6%
5 Graham Bell - Alpine skier, five time Winter Olympian 6%
6 Wilf O'Reilly - Short track speed skater - 1991 World Champion 2%

Dan King, who heads up Nationwide’s FlexPlus current account, which provides winter sports cover for the family as standard, said: “Eddie the Eagle holds a special place in the nation’s heart. He is the personification of going against the odds. But as someone who has made a career out of committing to death-defying jumps, he is extremely well-placed to advise on how to ski and board safely this season. We would urge anyone taking part in winter sports this season to protect themselves – get a helmet and cover yourself with adequate travel insurance. It’s really not worth the risk”.

Nationwide FlexPlus was ranked the best by Which? in 2014. It offers Worldwide Family Travel Insurance and is the only provider to offer combined winter sports, golf, wedding and business cover as standard. It will cover ski pack, ski equipment, hired skis, piste closures, avalanche closure, physiotherapy following a skiing accident and delayed ski equipment as well as medical expenses up to the value of £10 million. Off-piste skiing under the supervision of a professional guide is also covered.

Notes to Editors

  • The research was carried out by OnePoll and questioned 1,000 adults that have ever taken part in a winter sport. It was conducted between 27/11/2015 and 01/12/2015.
  • A separate poll, also conducted by OnePoll questioned 2,000 adults. It was commissioned between 27/11/2015 and 01/12/2015.

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